I am not here to tell you that Semper Fi is anything special, I was just in the mood for a movie like this. It is nothing new either, especially narratives featuring five cocky guys, who think they can act however they want. The movie opens with the group acting rude to an employee at a bowling alley, but everything after that is multi-layerd, much deeper than just tough guys acting hard. Callahan and Oyster are brothers, their mother has passed away, and their father is out of the picture. The two of them have survived together, Callahan paying the bills working as a police officer and Oyster continuing to be the jester of the group. The antics from Oyster begin to get on Callahan's nerves, already having a checkered past, there comes a time when your loyalty to family must end. When Oyster gets into a scrum with two guys at a bar, a landed punch ends up killing one of his assailants. This time Callahan has to take his brother in. He can't get away with a mistake he's made.
Director Henry Alex Rubin (Murderball; Disconnected) co-wrote the script, alongside former Army veteran Sean Mullin, which lends a level of authenticity to war scenes, but works better in the approach to these men as people. This isn't toxic masculinity or macho military jargon. This is a group of people struggling with past traumas, fighting in the Iraq war, feeling lost back home, and then fighting with the legal system for their friend. Each individual character is uniquely drawn, in their own head, and in ours. Milk has a family to think of, Jaeger lost his leg in battle, and Snowball wants his friendships back. When the group comes together they are one, a tight family. Although they cannot forgive one another, Callahan still visits Oyster in prison, now serving a ten-year sentence, with no signs of early release. What's even worse is that Oyster has been made the security guards whipping boy, repeatedly beaten down, blamed for things he did not do. The situation has gotten worse and Callahan takes it upon himself to break his brother out of prison.
This is where Semper Fi turns up the energy and becomes a similar premise to Ben Affleck's The Town. One by one, the group comes together with a plan to break Oyster out. These are men that have respect for those in uniform, gave their blood sweat and tears for the country, but now they must show their loyalty to those that truly matter. It's an interesting premise, because it reveals that police officers can be just as corrupt as civilians and vice versa. What rises to the top is the performance from Nat Wolff, a real highlight of Semper Fi, often engaging in intense conversations with Courtney. Henry Alex Rubin toes the line between drama and action, building it up to an exciting break out sequence.
I guess the major appeal for Semper Fi is seeing if all the men will survive, but you will also find the camaraderie to be authentic, and the characters to be well written. Semper Fi is the motto of the Marines and an oath of loyalty. Here is a movie that puts that loyalty to the test. If you find yourself in the mood for a solid macho drama, check out Semper Fi.
Written by: Leo Brady
MOVIE: SEMPER FI
STARRING: JAI COURTNEY; NAT WOLFF; FINN WITTROCK; LEIGHTON MEESTER; BEAU KNAPP; ARTURO CASTRO
DIRECTED BY: HENRY ALEX RUBIN
AMovieGuy.com's RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
2019 has been a weird year, man. You're reading that rating above correctly. I am giving a positive review to a Jai Courtney picture. The guy who brings as much personality to a role as a tomato and can be blamed for having a part in ruining, not one, but two beloved action franchises. That guy. Maybe this year is the start of a new Jai Courtney? Hopefully, we can expect more work like this from him. Movies involving human emotion, family strife, mixed with intense drama. I hope so, becauseSemper Fiis a nice start. You might see some film critics balk at the thought of giving the Suicide Squad actor credit when it is due, but I am here to tell you that I found Semper Fi to be engaging. Director Henry Alex Rubin has made a movie about five guys, all with catchy codenames, such as Callahan (Courtney), Jaeger (Finn Wittrock), Oyster (Nat Wolff), Milk (Beau Knapp), and Snowball (Arturo Castro). They have grown up together in New York, worked blue collar jobs, join the Marine reserves, and fight in the Iraq war together. They have one another's back, but that brotherhood can be tested and that's essentially what it's all about. Semper Fi is an intense action throwback.